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Religion card- a ticket to popularity?

Religion has always played a significant role in Pakistani society. It has remained a controlling force in public, private, educational, political, and even media spheres. In such a religiously focused society, there are many persons who exploit religion for personal benefit. In recent years, I've seen several celebrities using religious concepts to gain attention or to cover up their own errors. Celebrities are well aware of the fact that a religiously chained audience is highly emotional about it. To name a few, I'll start with Pakistani actor Hamza Ali Abbasi, who is one of the most well-known cases. After his "insightful remarks" about religion, he has remained at the Forefront for a long time. Hamza Ali Abbasi has remained the host of a Pakistani dancing show-Pakistan Star. He scolded a girl for dancing to an item song on the show, arguing that it was inappropriate to do so. In response to a query from a Co-host about what kind of songs she should dance to, he replied that she could dance to any music she wants except item songs. On another occasion, he became enraged because a boy was dancing without a shirt underneath his jacket, calling it vulgar and against our religious and social values. Some people tried to point out the hypocrisy and irrational component in his acts, but plenty of individuals backed him up since he was acting in the name of "religion", they claimed.

Moving on to another well-known actor, Feroz Khan, who was already famous when he stated that he would be leaving show business for the sake of Islam, to which he was greeted with a thunderous ovation. However, he declared his comeback to show business only a few months later, claiming that his Sheikh informed him that he should utilize this platform to preach religion. Ishqiya, Khuda Aur Muhabbat 3, Tich Button, and Ay Mushte Khaak are some of his recent works. Finally, Sadaf Kanwal and her husband Shehroz Sabzwari provide us with a recent example. Sadaf Kanwal is one of Pakistan's most bold and well-known supermodels. In one of her interviews, she and her husband make some controversial remarks against feminists. They preached to the audience about how a perfect wife should treat her husband as if he were a child, but when the interviewer asked Shehroz about his thoughts on the Sadaf item song, he said, "I love that she worked so hard and gave a beautiful performance." Some individuals sought to point out the problematic attitude here, but there were a lot of others who backed these two since they were portraying our "true Islamic culture", according to them. And, to cash in on this religious edge, Shehroz later commented on his Instagram story that those criticizing him are opposed to Islamic teachings. After that, he has suddenly become the national hero and flag-bearer of Islam.

Let’s Talk:

It begs the question of whether we are willing to accept any irrational action as legitimate just because it is done in the name of Islam. Why are we still unable to recognize that religion is a private and personal matter rather than a social and public responsibility? Do you believe that the behaviors committed by these celebrities are perfectly normal and justified, with no hint of a problem?

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I agree with how religion is used by several celebrities to create a cult of personality. Religion is used to add a charismatic appeal to rally the masses behind a call. One of the examples that come to my mind is PTI, specifically Imran Khan. PTI created an aura of excitement by presenting Riyasaat-e-Madinah as solutions to all the problems. This notion of using a highly religious identity for the party's benefit is highly ambiguous as it is being used to brush other pressing issues under the carpet by so-called aiming to work towards a Riyasat-e-Madinah. People fail to identify the contradictions within the claims of such leaders because religion appeals to emotion rather than rational thinking. Saussure's theory of…


I absolutely agree with you on the point you made about PTI and their use of religious cards. Imran Khan has used religion from the beginning, and it was even the foundation of his campaign- Riyasat e Madinah. Furthermore, the connection with the "Semiotics" notion is something I really like about your comment. People accept these religious exploiters because they appeal to a religion that is relatable to the masses since they share the same "Conceptual map." Also, and this may be a stretch, but I believe that the recent horrific episode involving Priyantha Kumara, who was lynched and burned by a mob, is also a repercussion of this selfish religious exploitation. The effects may appear tiny at first, but…



This is an excellent piece of writing. I believe that the recent "concept of religion" which is prevalent in our society is a result of actions taken by our ruling elite such as Zia ul Haq or Zulfiqar Bhutto in the past. It has led to the creation of an "extremist nation" that is not ready to listen to anyone. Sadly, we did not learn from our past and people are still exploiting religion for their own benefit.


I agree with both of you on your points. It is essentially an extension of the additional implications that such exploitation has on us. The higher the exploiter's rank, the more harm he or she will inflict to society. Although I grasp Abdul Majid Lali's point of view. True, Zia and Bhutto were not the only ones who played a big part, but they were the ones who did it on a wider scale. Bhutto's introduction of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which declared Ahmedis to be non-Muslims on a national and official basis, was complete destruction of Pakistan's diversity. It was a call to violence within the country. As Kausar Niazi points out in his book The Last…


I agree that religion is often used at its convenience in Pakistan. When it favor them, people suddenly become very religious and when it does not they do not even come close to acknowledging it. I also believe that people are easily able to use religion in this way at their convenience because there is a very sensitive environment around the discussion of religion in Pakistan. People generally become defensive and hostile when it comes to an open discussion about religion. Thus, people are easily able to exploit the teachings of religion to their benefits when they want to do so. -Aimen

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